'Mario Kart 8 Deluxe' Multiplayer Guide: How many players can race on one Nintendo Switch?

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe multiplayer is one of the strongest aspects of the game. Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo Switch lets you crowd around a TV and pummel your friends with shells and bananas. 

The Switch throws in the added benefit of being able to bring the game on the go and challenge your friends on the spot, as well as online. But with various play modes and controller schemes, the numerous combinations of the two can get confusing. 

Here's everything you need to know in one ultimate guide to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe multiplayer.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe multiplayer modes: How many people can race on one Switch?

Local multiplayer  Xavier Harding/'Mario Kart 8 Deluxe'

As shown on the main menu screen, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe supports four players racing one another on a single Switch screen. The four racers will need to be within wireless range of the Switch — a sensible option for couch multiplayer or playing huddled around a table.

The online play option supports two local players taking on 10 others in a race, according to Nintendo's official page. As Nintendo notes in the fine print, online will be free until the paid service launches in fall 2017

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe multiplayer modes: Linking the Nintendo Switch

If you know other people with a Nintendo Switch, those consoles can be linked. Mario Kart 8 on the Switch supports eight players, each with their own consoles and copies of the game, to link up wirelessly.

Those with multiple Switch units also have the option of LAN play. Up to 12 Switch units and 12 Nintendo Switch docks (all plugged into TVs) can connect to one another for a LAN party. With a LAN adapter plugged into each Nintendo Switch dock, and each dock housing a Switch unit, the docks can support a giant, TV-filled Mario Kart party. The LAN party method will also require each person to have a copy of the game. 

NintendoFuse confirms that each Switch can support two racers each, but keep in mind matches overall can have 12 people. This will likely be the rarest setting you'll find yourself in, but hey, it's good to have the option.

The confirmed multiplayer combos are as follows. If you have:

One Nintendo Switch

The combos are:

• Four-player local multiplayer, all on one screen.

• 12-player online multiplayer, one to two people locally on one screen.

Two to Eight Nintendo Switches

• Two- to eight-player wireless multiplayer, each on one Switch screen.

Up to 12 Nintendo Switches

• Up to 12 people play via wired LAN connection. Requires each person to use their dock and play on a TV. One to two people can play on a single Nintendo Switch.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe multiplayer controllers: What are my options?

The Mario Kart 8 Deluxe multiplayer situation can be dizzying, without taking into account the Switch-compatible controllers. The Switch does not support the Wii U Pro Controller, GamePad or Wii Remotes, so your only options are the Joy-Con and the Switch Pro Controller.

Players are able to choose between any configuration of a single Joy-Con horizontally, two Joy-Cons held vertically or a Switch Pro Controller. But in some situations, choices are limited.

Interestingly, as Polygon pointed out, the game refuses to let players use two Joy-Cons held vertically when the Switch is connected to other Switches and two players are using one single Switch. 

For example, one person playing with two Joy-Cons (one in each hand) is OK. But two people playing with one Joy-Con in each hand isn't possible, nor is one person able to use a Pro Controller while the other goes the double Joy-Con route. When it's time to arrange controllers for a multiplayer race (reminder: with two people on one console), the double Joy-Con method is simply grayed out. 

Three wireless objects per console  Polygon/'Mario Kart 8 Deluxe'

This could possibly be due to a limitation of the Nintendo Switch's wireless. Nintendo may have opted to keep wireless speeds fast, rather than require your console to talk to yet another device. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's Online Play mode allows both players use of the double Joy-Con method. 

Here's a quick rundown of multiplayer controller configurations:

Local Multiplayer (two to four players on one console): Supports single horizontal Joy-Con for each player, two Joy-Cons held vertically for each player, and Switch Pro Controller.

Online Play (one to two players on one console, playing online matches): Supports single horizontal Joy-Con for each player, two vertically held Joy-Cons for each player or Switch Pro Controller.

Wireless Play (one to two players on one console, playing against other Switch owners nearby): Supports single horizontal Joy-Con for each player or Switch Pro Controller for each player. Does not support two Joy-Cons held vertically.

Check out more Mario Kart 8 Deluxe news, tips and tricks

If you're anxious to get racing in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, check out our video gameplay of the first 20 minutes of the game and find out the eight characters the game needs ASAP. Check out the best techniques to race with and learn how you can buy the game bundled with the console, including one bundle from Nintendo. Find out if we'reexpecting DLC and our initial impressions of the new console it's on from back in January. Or you can play Mario Kart 64 on a newer console instead, if you're looking for some nostalgic throwback. And when all else fails, back that thang up.